Ashley opened her eyes, to see herself lying on a white leather sofa. She groaned as she felt a stab of pain on the place where she had hit the floor when she fell.
Stella: “babe easy. I am terribly sorry about my gateman. He can be really heavy handed when it comes to his job. I have got painkillers here and a cup of water. Try and seat up.” She said, placing her hand under Ashley’s head.
Ashley raised herself slowly to a sitting position and looked at her hostess. Stella had changed. Time had not been kind to her. Her hour glass figure was now heavier and wider. There were wrinkles around her eyes that no amount of foundation and make up could hide. But she looked great. Her skin glowed, and her eyes still had its spark. Ashley took all this in, in a brief glance, as she accepted the painkillers and swallowed it with a gulp of water.
Stella: “what are you even doing at my gate by this time of the night? You no dey fear?” she asked, taking the cup from her and placing it on a stool.
Ashley: “I have nowhere else to go. I am sorry for appearing out of the blues like this but you are the only one from the old days that had cared and I always followed up on you.” She replied, in surprisingly good English, resting her head on the chair.
Stella: “God, Ashley, all these years. Look at you? A whole chief Nwokolo’s daughter! God! if you father were alive now, he would spit.” She said, anger making her eyes red.
Ashley: “man. That was my curse…man. You know the idiot, I met after Collins disappeared, turned me to a drug pusher and prostitute and I let him. To make it even more hilarious, after making him rich with my body, he threw me out of the hotel, he built with my money. How foolish can one be?” she replied, softly.
Stella; “you were always a fool for men. But yours was the dangerous kind. You fell for the wrong kind of men; men who used you and left you with nothing. And you never learned! Just a taste of Jake, I had enough and I left well alone. You had a rich father, you had everything. All you needed to do was study, get a degree and come back to Nigeria to work with your father but no…you let your love for scam artists cloud your judgment, now look at you.” She said; waving her hand at Ashley. “Where is your son?” she suddenly asked.
Ashley: “I don’t know. I dropped him off at an orphanage in Benin when he became a nuisance to my customers.” She replied, searching through her bag for a pack of cigarettes.
Stella: “can you hear yourself speak? Your child that you carried for nine months and forced with pain out of you, became a nuisance. If not for the fact that I have given my life to Christ ehn, I would have given you a beating that will reset your brain. You are a disgrace to womanhood. I am tired and I am going to bed. If you need anything, that is the kitchen and there’s the fridge. Help yourself. We will talk tomorrow.” She got up and mounted the stairs without another word.
Ashley sat on the chair, staring at the glass of water. “I am a disgrace to motherhood.” The word rang in her head as she stared deep into the night.
Brukeme woke up, feeling depressed. He opened his eyes and stared at the revolving fan hanging from the ceiling. He was like that when his roommate, Kevwe entered the room with a bucket and a towel around his neck.
Kevwe: “brothaly what’s the level na? Which one you spread like tomatoes wey dem shade for market na? You no dey go hustle?” he asked, dropping the bucket by the back of the door and towelling his body roughly.
Brukeme looked at him and sighed. He turned to his side and faced the wall, as another guy, Jerry, entered the room, holding a black poly-bag. He walked to a wooden cupboard and brought out a plate. He opened the poly-bag and brought out akara balls and pap. He set the meal before the bed and sat down to eat, totally ignoring everyone in the room.
Kevwe: “Jerry na wa for you o. how your matter be sef? You just go arrange chow for yourself, you come lock up for we two wey dey follow you dey crash for this bunk. Shuo! Brukeme you dey see your guy so?” he asked.
Jerry: “dey wait make I call you come eat na. Stand make you dey preach o. when I don chop finish, wash plate, shey you go say I wicked?” he replied, his mouth full.
Kevwe quickly threw his towel on the bed and grabbed a spoon from a plate lying on the ground. He wiped the spoon hastily and started eating. He looked at Brukeme whose back was turned to them.
Kevwe: “Brukeme, you know how the town be o. you no go come chow?” he asked, his mouth now full with food.
Jerry: “free the guy o. you no know say him oga collect bus from him hand yesterday?” he said, softly. Kevwe’s eyes opened wide, his spoon paused halfway to his mouth.
Kevwe: “why na? Why that man dey do like that? As the boy dey hustle reach. And e go soon reach for the money to complete for am to take the bus o. world people sef. Na wa o. but see ehn, Brukeme, lock up all this people o. wetin go be, go be o. no reason their matter o. when your level go enter like this ehn, everybody go believe. Free the matter, make you come chow. Work dey the street. If e no dey, we go create am. No be we again?” he asked, rhetorically.
Brukeme shook his head, laughing silently. His roommates have never seen the four walls of a school but they had enough optimism to fly a plane without fuel. He turned to them and got up from the bed. He joined them after washing a spoon.
Kevwe: “Oyibo. Na you no get money o but na you go dey do aje pass. This small school wey you go so, na to take dey form na you go learn for there. Dey wash spoon…abeg siddon well make I see food wey I dey chop jare.
Brukeme: “you be mumu o. ‘we go create am.’ How many work you don create since I know you?” he asked as he dipped his spoon into hot pap and tried to start a new day with a bit of hope.
Fidelia sat on her bed, watching her siblings as they struggled from under their bed covers. She twisted her bedcover in her hands as Kate and Ese got up. Kate greeted her and walked to the bathroom, three of them shared. Fidelia waited to hear a scream or something but no sound came out of the bathroom. She looked at Ese in surprise.
Fidelia: “Kate is not a virgin.” She blurted out before she could stop herself.
Ese turned to her sharply.
Ese: “what do you mean by that?” she asked.
Fidelia: “let her come first. I want to ask something about last night.” She replied, her brows furrowed in thought.
Kate came out and stopped when she saw her two elder sisters looking at her strangely. Ese beckoned her to her bed. She walked to the bed and stood. Ese patted the space by her side and told her to sit down. Kate sat and stared at her curiously, then suddenly Ese grabbed her
Ese: “I want you to tell me the truth or else I will so beat you ehn, you will think it is not the same father and mother that gave birth to us.” She said, harshly.
Kate: “what! What did I do?” she asked, looking for Ese to Fidelia.
Fidelia: “who disvirgined you?” she asked, softly.
Kate: “what! Who says that am not a virgin, let the person come and swear here. What sort of rubbish talk is this? Is it Eruke? That gossip. Let her wait, we will meet at jamb lesson, she will tell me…” she stopped talking as Ese shouted on her.
Ese: “Fidelia, how did you know that she is not a virgin?” she asked, turning to Fidelia. Kate’s eyes widened in anger, she moved to speak but Ese pressed her hands hard and she flinched quiet but her eyes still blazed with anger. “Yes Fidelia, I am waiting.”
Fidelia: “don’t you feel any odd sensation between your legs? No pain, nothing?” she asked, looking at her two sisters curiously.
Ese: “I feel weird today, I feel like I have been touched somehow. I had intended to ask you, since it was only you and papa that witnessed the incident after we passed out. That even reminds me, why did their leader open your eyes?” she suddenly asked.
Fidelia: “he said he wanted me to witness and bear the burden.” She replied, softly.
Kate: “witness what?” she asked, rudely.
Fidelia looked at her, tears falling from her eyes.
Fidelia: “he made me and father witness your rape.” She said.
The room was silent as the girls digested the information.
Ese: “that is not possible. I would have noticed. I would have felt it.” She replied, refusing to believe.
Fidelia: “he gave you anaesthetics and morphine, I think. So you felt nothing. I had expected Kate to react to something when she went to urinate but she didn’t. That is how I knew that she is no longer a virgin.” She replied in a desolate voice.
Ese stared at Fidelia and saw the truth in her sister’s eyes. She shuddered as the shock hit her. She got up quietly like a zombie and entered the bathroom and shut the door. Kate looked at Fidelia, her eyes wide with shock and fear, then she jumped as a piercing shout tore through the house.
Voke did not sleep well the night before. He had tossed and turned throughout, trying to fathom the motives behind his brother’s actions. Why had he kept the knowledge of their father from him? Why had he decided to rob the man? The one that bothered him the most was why he had decided to commit suicide in their father’s house. He was worried. He knew that really soon, the police will find the link between him and Friday, and they will definitely be brutal in their quest for the truth. He had about five hundred thousand naira that he cannot explain about, lying in his account. Nigerian police will not understand or believe. He knew he was in a pile of shit, but he could not just get up and leave. He had courses, exams, plans for his life. Added to these, was the fact that, he now knew who is father was; a question that had tormented him most of his adult life. He intended to get answers from the man.
A knock sounded on his door. He got up and opened it, to peep through. A booted foot kicked the door and several policemen jumped in fully kitted like they were going into a war zone.
Police Officer Calixtus: “Mr Voke, we are from the Delta State CID. You are under arrest for your involvement in the robbery of one Dr Fejiro Anigboro, last night. Please come with us quietly or we will use brutal force.” He said, smiling grimly.
Question: is Ashley prepared to start afresh? Who screamed in Fidelia’s house? Will Voke be able to save himself? So many questions…an avalanche is indeed coming
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